I mentioned getting some bad news at work the other day. And I did. Some very surprising, and very shitty, bad news.
Turns out, the construction project whose delay left me without a room this year, is not projected to be finished for the next school year either.
How is that possible? you ask. Very good question.
Evidently the company they contracted to bring in re-purposed freight crates (or some such thing) to make into classrooms, has only delivered 9 of the 72 units. Yes, they are in breach of contract. Yes, legal steps are being taken. Yes, this is an insanely frustrating situation. Yes, they are doing all they can to remedy it.
So the school that is supposed to move into the campus that is supposed to be built from these not-materializing units can’t move, which means they can’t vacate their spaces for us to “modernize” and move in. Their move-in date, which was originally pushed from the beginning of this school year, to the winter break, to the February break, is now being pushed indefinitely. And since they want to do some “modernization” to the space they are leaving, we definitely won’t be moving into the their space in the fall, even if, by some miracle, the units materialize before summer.
I found out on Monday, from a friend, because I missed the last-minute meeting that was called for 8:05am. I will admit, I cried.
Not having a classroom this year has been REALLY hard for me. I am currently teaching in FIVE different classrooms, sharing space with FIVE different teachers. I would always be sharing one classroom because they aren’t going to give me my own room on the campus where I only teach one period, but it’s really hard not having a home base at my own campus.
I literally walk between classes with a wagon full of Spanish books (for the 10 minutes of free reading that starts each class), and other resources I need. I spend a couple minute at the end of each class packing up my stuff, and all of the time between classes, moving it and set it up again somewhere else. I am frequently late. I am constantly leaving things I need in other places. It’s a totally fucked up situation, and it’s making me crazy.
I’ve been really miserable doing it, but I kept telling myself that it’s only one year. It’s only one year! I can do anything for one year, right? Now that I know it’s two years, I’m losing my mind.
Shouldn’t they move the burden to someone else? you ask. Yes, maybe the should. But they probably won’t. They aren’t yet sure what they are going to do. It’s only late October, after all. We aren’t even finished with the first trimester. They will hem and haw and say they are “trying to figure it out,” but in the end, it will be me who doesn’t have a classroom again next year. I am prepared for this.
The reality is, this is a seriously fucked up situation for the school district. The one year delay created massive parent outrage – I can only imagine how pissed all those entitled white folks are now that it’s become a two year delay. They are currently paying a full time principal and secretary for a 4th/5th grade “upper elementary” school that has teachers and students on three campuses (seven 5th grade classes on our campus, four 4th grades at one elementary school and four 4th grades at another elementary school). They have half of those 4th grade classes in portables taking up blacktop and playground space because those campuses are also impacted. The superintendent left in October to take a position at a bigger district farther south and isn’t here to deal with any of it, or get shit on for a situation he helped create, and we only have an interim superintendent until they find someone new. The whole thing is a cluster fuck of epic proportions. My not having a room is quite literally the LEAST of these people’s worries, and I expect that will be evident in how it’s handled.
But aren’t you looking for a new job in the spring anyway? you ask. Well yes, that was the plan. But honestly, I was seriously considering NOT looking for a new job again, because I’ve really been liking this new way of teaching, and I know a high school would never go for it. Create your curriculum around stories the kids make up, without focusing on any predetermined vocabulary themes? No one at the high school level would ever go for it. I’d have to teach out of a textbook for at least two years, maybe forever.
And everything I’d need to do to be a competitive contender in the spring… it’s just so much on top of not having a room at work, and everything else I’ve committed to. I just don’t know how I’ll find the time, or energy.
Also, I really don’t want to get rejected over and over again, like last year. And I don’t see how I’ll be more likely to get a job next year. Nothing, really, will have changed. I still won’t be a native speaker. I still won’t have experience teaching high school. I still will just be… me.
So yeah, I was actually planning on staying put next year, moving back into my old room and just enjoying a year of not doing this fucking bullshit again.
Except I will be doing this fucking bullshit again. And it’s really bumming me out.
I know I have a lot of time to think about how I’m going to move forward. I haven’t looked to see if our contract protects me from being in this situation for a 2nd year (it probably doesn’t have language specific to this situation, because this kind of thing doesn’t happen much, but it’s worth looking). I haven’t thought much yet about trying to find a high school and being resigned to teaching out of a textbook for a couple years (until I get tenure), or forever. The reality is, even if I do look for a job, I probably won’t get one, and I’ll be stuck moving from room to room, just like I’m doing this year. It’s not like looking for a new job is guaranteed to get me out of this situation.
And maybe I could leverage the shiftiness to get some stuff I want. As it is, I get to school after our official starting time most days, and I leave early a lot, and no one says anything. That flexibility is very much appreciated. Maybe I can convince myself that another year of it is worth not having a room….
I know it could be worse. I know I could be out of a job entirely. I know this. I’m trying to remember. I’m trying to find ways to make this more doable, now that I know it’s not as temporary a situation as I first thought. I’m trying to just keep my thoughts from veering into the territory of hopeless and depressed. I’m trying to find the silver lining. But right now it’s hard. The only thing keeping me going was knowing next year would definitely be different. Now that I know it will definitely be the same, I’m not sure how to stay positive. It just sucks. And I’m really upset. And I guess that’s okay for right now. I just need to keep it all in perspective.